Marnie’s mini mosh pit comes to Pemberton 

Preschoolers get a chance to get down on Canada Day

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"How could I give back?" That was a thought that plagued Marnie Grey as she recuperated in a Thai hospital suffering from injuries sustained during the Dec. 26 tsunami. The quality of care she and her husband received was so extraordinary that she knew she had to do something in return. Although her ribs were broken, her spirit wasn’t.

At first, the children’s entertainer thought that organizing a benefit for the children who survived the tsunami would be the way to go.

"I called Raffi, Fred Penner, Charlotte Diamond, all the heavy hitters, like Sharon Lois and Bram. Then I realized I couldn’t jump, I could barely walk and my shows are all about music and movement," explains Grey.

Instead, Grey, a member of Foster Parents Plan, decided to donate all the proceeds form her third CD, Groovin’ Through the Neighbourhood to the organization’s Plan Thailand.

"I really like that they’re non-denominational and I’ve really liked what I’ve gotten through them," she says adding she sponsors two children through the program.

Kids are clearly at the centre of this former Early Childhood Educator’s life. It was her initial career that catapulted into this one. While working with infants, Grey quickly became aware of how well children as young as three months respond to music, as she sang impromptu songs in the course of her workday. Enthusiastic response during "circle time" convinced her that she was on to something. Singing lessons and a little more guitar work followed and soon she was writing compositions about kids’ worlds with enough wit and energy to keep the parents’ entertained, too.

In 1999, she began teaching music classes in Vancouver community centres and began teaching more than 300 preschoolers every semester. Two years later she released her debut CD, MusicWith Marnie and started performing outside a teaching venue.

This year, Marnie, Mumba and her band were the first children’s entertainers to appear on ZeD TV. That opportunity was a result of a Vancouver Planetarium film, Marnie, her monkey Mumba (her very devoted husband in a very, very warm monkey suit), and The Music with Marnie Band appeared in. Obviously, it showcased Grey to a very different audience.

"The core audience for our show is two year olds to five year olds and it’s all about dancing," she says. "We just went on tour with The Children’s Festival and we’re always known for our ‘Marnie’s mini mosh pits’ because everywhere we go we promote as much audience interaction as possible"

Her appearance on the eclectic CBC late night show has opened some doors for the independent performer who has been doing everything from marketing CDs to booking her own shows and classes for the past six years. After our interview she’s off to talk to a producer about the possibility of developing a children’s show.

That’s just the kind of possibility that keeps Grey groovin’ through the neighbourhood.

Marnie and Mumbu, sans band, will perform at the Pemberton Canada Day’s Family Festival at the community centre from 12:45 to 1:30 p.m.

More Canada Day fun …

Canada Day in Pemberton kicks off at 8:30 a.m. with the start of the 7 km Spud Run. Registration at the community centre opens at 8 a.m. and is $5 for students, $14 for adults. The festivities continue with the annual parade that begins in front of Frontier Street Pharmacy at 11 a.m. and concludes at the community centre.

Equestrian enthusiasts are invited to try their hand at a Poker Ride. The entry fee is $15 with 50 per cent of the proceeds going to support the local 4H Horse Club. Riders have a chance at taking away the other half of the purse for best poker hand. Registration begins at 1 p.m. at the PACA grounds, located at the corner Cottonwood and Portage streets.

The day concludes with a firework display at 10 p.m. at the Community Centre.

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